How’s 2017 treating you? Not much changed? That’s about right.
With awards season approaching, a glut of ambitious, festival-favourites are sliding onto our screens. Silence and A Monster Calls are already brightening the winter outlook, but just to put them into context, let’s remember some of the less ambitious, less successful releases form the year gone by. Hold your nose, some real stinkers lie ahead.
Florence Foster Jenkins is not a terrible film – it just feels unpleasant. Most of the humour is pointed at the titular character and in a less-than-favourable fashion. Be it her ignorance or lack of ability, you are told to laugh at Florence, just as her audience cackles at her performances.
Streep’s everlasting quality gives the film credibility for a while, with Hugh Grant helping balance the jokes’ acidity, but not even a pair of wonderful performances can keep the joke from growing old. When the film turns on its head, and cries out for your sympathy, all is too much to bear.
4. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Like FFJ, Batman v. Superman isn’t awful, but it is boring and that’s the cardinal sin. Its questioning of Superman’s jurisdiction starts off as an intriguingly human debate to pose, but BvS soon descends into the murk.
With this question left half-answered, all humanity flies out the window, with giant v. giant action given top and only billing. Colour is replaced by a dank grey and all leads to an awfully baggy action climax. Lex should have been made into a real super-villain but he never looks able to wield real threat over his enhanced enemies.
This one turned out to be a real drag. Cinema should never feel like a chore.
3. The Legend of Tarzan
The Legend of Tarzan suffers from many of the same afflictions as Bats v. Supes. It is murky, heavy, sluggish, and rarely exciting. It deals poorly with both Tarzan and Jane, relegating both characters into shells of their animated selves. Neither is ‘animated’ enough to thrill, the stodgy script doing little to assist.
Yes, it is Tarzan back to the jungle, but even the humour, which lends itself to such an environment, see George in the Jungle, seems misjudged. Nobody ever needs to hear Samuel L. Jackson ask if he should lick a great ape’s balls.
Who thought this was a good idea? Nobody I’ve spoken to. Forever destined to flop, Ben-Hur is a pretty awful attempted remake. All rides on the pivotal chariot race, but ends up lacking both thrill or tension.
As I said in my Den of Geek review, “Ben-Hur‘s biblical message of forgiveness is well-intentioned, but it is told with such glacial velocity that prayers for a speedy resolution came as an act of compassion.” Don’t worry yourself with this one.
1. Nine Lives
It’s a bit of a mystery how Nine Lives ever came to be. Kevin Spacey is Tom Brand, a billionaire businessman, think Frank Underwood turned down to four. He misses birthdays and fails to give his loving family enough attention. He plans to give to his daughter the cat she’s always wanted as a last minute birthday present, but suddenly, he is the cat.
From the offset it is clear that Spacey’s heart isn’t in this, and frankly, he’s given no reason to change that. Spacey plays fast and loose with the term ‘acting’ as he barrels through the dime-a-dozen script on auto-pilot. Jennifer Garner isn’t much better, over-acting to a lightweight script. Any laughs they produce are only plasters covering caverns.
Nine Lives seems totally out of place and out of time, especially in a world in which Paddington has proved that live-action, animal-centred family films can be clever, funny and original. Me-Out.
Thanks for trawling through that pile of hot mess with me. Part One of the Best of 2016 is out now, and Part Two will be here before you know it.
Images courtesy of finalreel, wikimedia, flickr, indiewire and funny women respectively.